Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Sister Patricia Holland delivered Tuesday’s devotional address. Sister Holland testified of God’s awareness of His children, and Elder Holland spoke on how we can become submissive and faithful saints through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Sister Holland As the wife of a previous BYU president, Sister Holland cherishes BYU campus, and recognizes that university years are full of amazing experiences as well as heavy expectations. To help students get through especially difficult days, Sister Holland reminded them of Jeremiah 29:11-14, which speaks of God’s mindfulness of our worried thoughts, prayers and needs.
“I … bear witness of a God who thinks ‘peace’ regarding us, and not ‘evil,’ a God that will ‘hearken’ unto every single one of us in our times of need. I witness that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son and the Savior of this World.”
Elder Holland To begin his address, Elder Holland recounted a story from his October 2016 general conference talk. He spoke of his friends Troy and Deedra Russell, who lost their young son Austen in a tragic accident.
Slowly, the Russells found peace and resolution through the gospel. But tragedy struck again when six years later, in September 2021, Deedra was seriously injured in a head-on automotive collision. Now, almost five months and 18 surgeries later, Deedra is alive but still hospitalized.
During moments of anguish and unfairness, it’s easy for us to feel isolated from God — or even punished by Him, Elder Holland taught. But God does not exist to disappoint, harm or crush us, he insisted.
“God does not now, nor will He ever, do to you a destructive, malicious, unfair thing … By definition and in fact, God is perfectly and thoroughly — always and forever — good, and everything He does is for our good.”
If God is on our side, then why do we experience challenges that feel beyond our limits? Referencing King Benjamin’s farewell address, Elder Holland explained that the purpose of life is to become a saint – submissive and faithful – through the Atonement of Christ. That process, though refining and beautiful, requires pain and difficulty.
“Moments when faith feels frightfully difficult to hold on to are not reserved for bygone days of our persecution and martyrdom. No, times when becoming a saint through Christ the Lord seem almost — almost — too much to achieve are still with us.”
Troy and Deedra Russell’s lives, though tinged by pain and tears, offer admirable examples of becoming saint-like, said Elder Holland.
Part of becoming a saint through the Atonement requires us to practice faith and submissiveness through issuing forgiveness, seeking reparations and exercising obedience. The Russells extended forgiveness to the driver that struck Deedra, and the driver made diligent efforts to express his deep remorse and show a genuine desire to change. Both parties’ examples, said Elder Holland, remind us of the principle of obedience.
“We ought to acknowledge the tears of a Heavenly Father who simply asks us to take care of one another, to be careful rather than reckless with the well-being of our sisters and our brothers. Childlike obedience to His parental calls and His divine warnings will spare us and others agony in the end.”
The process of becoming saint-like through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is lengthy and requires resilient faith. Nevertheless, the mortal and eternal outcomes are priceless and should be willingly accepted, said Elder Holland.
“I welcome you to the life King Benjamin described and that Jesus perfectly exemplified. Welcome to concepts like patience and long-suffering, words and principles that take on meaning you never knew they had. Welcome to not knowing but still believing. Welcome to trusting in your Father in Heaven and believing that all His promises, near-term or long, will all yet be kept in full.”
For the moments we feel too exhausted to be faithful and hopeful, Elder Holland powerfully plead with us to remember the character of Christ and know that He seeks to soothe and not exacerbate our wounds.
“Please stay with the only help and strength that can aid you in that painful time. When you stumble in the race of life, don’t crawl away from the very physician who is unfailingly there to treat your injuries, lift you to your feet and help you finish the course.”
Next forum: Shankar Vedantam, journalist, author and creator of the podcast "Hidden Brain" will deliver the next forum address on Tuesday, January 25, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.
Vendantam's remarks will not be broadcast on any channels.